St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com

printer version

Not on the same side this time

Nine Lightning players represent eight nations at the World Championships.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


Fredrik Modin knew there was going to be a celebration after Sweden won the 1998 World Championship. He just didn't realize the lengths to which his countrymen would go to cheer their heroes.

Modin said the team plane was escorted by two fighter jets as it flew in from Switzerland. Fifteen police cars led the team bus into the capital city of Stockholm and to the town square, where, Modin estimated, about 150,000 people waited to scream their approval.

"It was an unbelievable feeling," said Modin, who had three goals and three assists in Sweden's gold-medal run. "It's something you want to be part of again."

The Lightning's top goal scorer and eight others from the organization will have that chance beginning today, when the World Championships begin in Cologne, Nuremberg and Hanover, Germany.

Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards will play for Canada, Pavel Kubina for the Czech Republic, Alexander Kharitonov for Russia, Thomas Ziegler for Switzerland, Kaspars Astashenko for Latvia, Konstantin Kalmikov for Ukraine and Jimmie Olvestad for Sweden.

"It's serious," Modin said. "We're going there to win. Nothing else really exists. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be fun."

"The more I think about it, the more I'm excited and nervous," Richards said. "But it's a good nervous. It's something very big."

But maybe not as big as it once was.

While Kubina called the tournament "the Stanley Cup of Europe," Modin said its prestige has slipped because of Europe's increased exposure to the NHL. He said fans realize many of the world's best -- such as Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Jaromir Jagr -- cannot participate because of the NHL playoffs.

Lightning coach John Tortorella said that should not diminish the tournament's significance.

"I think it's a feather in their cap for the organization to have some people from the Tampa Bay Lightning representing their countries," he said. "No matter what they do in the tournament, they're on a team representing their country, and that's fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing it."

He also would like to see Lecavalier get his game in order, and so would Lecavalier. Injuries, a loss of confidence and a change of coaches contributed to a slump that saw the captain score just nine goals in his last 42 games.

Lecavalier said he hopes the bigger ice surface and wide-open international game will help him find his groove.

"Hopefully, I'll get a lot of my confidence back over there," he said. "I've had a little bit of trouble scoring sometimes, and hopefully that kind of hockey will help me, not necessarily to come back but to get the skills level.

"I will have more opportunity offensively than in the NHL because the NHL is so focused on defensive hockey, so I think it's going to be great."

Lecavalier and Richards were linemates during Canada's two practice games. Richards, the NHL's highest-scoring rookie last season, said he expects his game to get a boost as well.

"It's huge for my development," he said. "It's not the NHL, but that doesn't matter. Just imagine if I play in the gold-medal game. It's a big experience. It's not just like playing a regular game of hockey. Just watching the players on the team, playing with some of the best players in Canada, you learn so much."

Not that anyone has lost sight of the ultimate goal. For many, anything less than gold is not an option. Kubina said that is especially true of the Czech Republic, the two-time defending champion.

"It's the biggest tournament of the year, so the whole country will be watching," said Kubina, who played on the 1999 team. "I hope it won't happen, but maybe you can lose in the quarterfinals or something like that. The media and the whole country will be all over you."

Said Richards: "In Canada, it's religion. If you don't win gold, they don't care what you're going to do."

Even friendships will take a back seat.

Asked about playing against his teammates, Modin said, smiling, "That's fun, but they're not my teammates anymore. They'd better watch out."

Want more?

For more information about the World Championships, check out these Web sites:

www.ihwc.net

www.tampabaylightning.com

www.slam.ca

World Championships

WHEN: Today-May 13.

WHERE: Cologne, Hanover and Nuremberg, Germany.

TEAMS: Group A -- Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland. Group B -- Austria, Finland, Japan, Slovakia. Group C -- Latvia, Sweden, Ukraine, United States. Group D -- Canada, Italy, Norway, Russia.

THE LOWDOWN: The top three teams in each group advance to the qualification round Friday-May 8 in Hanover and Cologne. Eight teams advance to the quarterfinals May 10. The May 12 semifinals and May 13 championship game are in Hanover.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE: (all times EDT) Switzerland vs. Germany at Cologne, 9:15 a.m.; Norway vs. Canada at Hanover, 10 a.m.; Belarus vs. Czech Republic at Nuremberg, 10 a.m.; Russia vs. Italy at Hanover, 2 p.m.; United States vs. Ukraine at Cologne, 2 p.m.; Austria vs. Finland at Nuremberg, 2 p.m.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright
 

From the Times sports desk

Devil Rays
  • What's Next: Naimoli handing over Rays reins
  • The Lease: Naimoli handing over Rays reins
  • Bucs ownership professes no interest in buying Rays
  • Detroit Tigers CEO leads list for Rays job
  • Investment bankers' role is assessing team's value
  • Shake-up needed, business leaders say
  • Changes for the Rays: Q & A
  • Players' focus remains on field
  • Still waiting for wins
  • McRae ready to see new bullpen pay off

  • St. Anthony's Triathlon
  • St. Anthony's Triathlon reaches the big time
  • Honoring an original Mad Dog

  • Bucs/NFL
  • Bucs offense rolls up sleeves
  • It's fast start, not false start
  • NFL briefs

  • Magic/NBA
  • Magic still likes its chances
  • NBA briefs

  • Baseball
  • Baseball briefs
  • AL briefs
  • NL briefs

  • Lightning/NHL
  • Not on the same side this time
  • NHL briefs

  • Mutiny
  • Garlick prepared for pressure of being the leader on defense

  • Outdoors
  • Captain's corner

  • Motorsports
  • On the brink of history

  • Et cetera
  • Golf briefs
  • Sports briefs

  • Preps
  • Three county athletes earn titles at A-3 meet
  • TC hires coach from Louisiana
  • Hartley dominates again in Leopards' win
  • Alonso hires big name to coach boys soccer
  • Dunnellon sends Crystal River on the road
  • Ridgewood holds off Gulf -- barely
  • Eagles put up fight but lose to Lancers
  • Farragut wins A-3 region title
  • Northeast rallies, escapes, beats Dixie for 4A-11 title
  • Cougar, Eagle fall short in overall 3A state finals
  • Pinellas has nation's best baseball, softball team
  • Warhawks cruise past Cougars
  • Top honors continue for Countryside


  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts